Military occupations by the Soviet Union

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Soviet sphere of influence in East-Central Europe with border changes resulting from military operations of World War II EasternBloc BorderChange38-48.svg
Soviet sphere of influence in East-Central Europe with border changes resulting from military operations of World War II

During World War II, the Soviet Union occupied and annexed several countries effectively handed over by Nazi Germany in the secret protocol Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939. These included Eastern Poland (incorporated into two different SSRs), [1] as well as Latvia (became Latvian SSR), [2] [3] Estonia (became Estonian SSR), [2] [3] Lithuania (became Lithuanian SSR), [2] [3] part of eastern Finland (became Karelo-Finnish SSR) [4] and eastern Romania (became the Moldavian SSR and part of Ukrainian SSR). [5] [6] Apart from Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and post-war division of Germany, USSR also occupied and annexed Carpathian Ruthenia from Czechoslovakia in 1945 (became part of Ukrainian SSR).

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 30 December 1922 to 26 December 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.


Below is a lists of various forms of military occupations by the Soviet Union resulting from both, the Soviet pact with Nazi Germany (ahead of World War II), and ensuing Cold War in the aftermath of Allied victory over Germany. [7] [8] [9]

Military occupation effective provisional control of a certain power over a territory

Military or belligerent occupation is effective provisional control by a certain ruling power over a territory, which is not under the formal sovereignty of that entity, without the violation of the actual sovereign. The territory is then known as the occupied territory and the ruling power the occupant. Occupation is distinguished from annexation by its intended temporary nature, by its military nature, and by citizenship rights of the controlling power not being conferred upon the subjugated population.

Cold War State of geopolitical tension after World War II between powers in the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc

The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union with its satellite states, and the United States with its allies after World War II. A common historiography of the conflict begins with 1946, the year U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan's "Long Telegram" from Moscow cemented a U.S. foreign policy of containment of Soviet expansionism threatening strategically vital regions, and ending between the Revolutions of 1989 and the 1991 collapse of the USSR, which ended communism in Eastern Europe. The term "cold" is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, but they each supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars.

Grand Alliance (World War II) alliance between, U.S, U.K., and Soviet Union against Nazi Germany during World War II

The Grand Alliance, also known as The Big Three, was a military alliance consisting of the three major Allies of World War II: the Soviet Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom. It is often called the "Strange Alliance" because it united the world's greatest capitalist state, the greatest communist state and the greatest colonial power.

Poland (1939–1956)

Poland was the first country to be occupied by the Soviet Union during World War II. The secret protocol of the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact stipulated Poland to be split between Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. [10] In 1939, the total area of Polish territories occupied by the Soviet Union (including the area given to Lithuania and annexed in 1940 during the formation of Lithuanian SSR), was 201,015 square kilometres, with a population of 13.299 million, of which 5.274 million were ethnic Poles and 1.109 million were Jews. [11]

After the end of World War II, the Soviet Union kept most of the territories it occupied in 1939, while territories with an area of 21,275 square kilometers with 1.5 million inhabitants were returned to communist-controlled Poland, notably the areas near Białystok and Przemyśl. [12] In 1944–1947, over a million Poles were resettled from the annexed territories into Poland (mostly into the Regained Territories). [13]

Białystok Place in Podlaskie, Poland

Białystok is the largest city in northeastern Poland and the capital of the Podlaskie Voivodeship. Białystok is the tenth-largest city in Poland, second in terms of population density, and thirteenth in area.

Przemyśl Place in Subcarpathian, Poland

Przemyśl is a city in south-eastern Poland with 66,756 inhabitants, as of June 2009. In 1999, it became part of the Subcarpathian Voivodeship; it was previously the capital of Przemyśl Voivodeship.

Soviet troops (the Northern Group of Forces) were stationed in Poland from 1945 till 1993. It was only in 1956 that official agreements between communist regime in Poland established by Soviets themselves and Soviet Union recognized the presence of those troops; hence many Polish scholars accept the usage of term 'occupation' for period 1945–1956. [14] Other scholars date the Soviet occupation till 1989. [15] [16] The Polish government-in-exile existed until 1990.

Northern Group of Forces

The Northern Group of Forces was the military formation of the Soviet Army stationed in Poland from the end of Second World War in 1945 until 1993 when they were withdrawn in the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union. Although officially considered Polish allies under the Warsaw Pact treaty, they were seen by most Poles as a Soviet occupation force.

Polish government-in-exile

The Polish government-in-exile, formally known as the Government of the Republic of Poland in exile, was the government in exile of Poland formed in the aftermath of the Invasion of Poland of September 1939, and the subsequent occupation of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union, which brought to an end the Second Polish Republic.

Baltic states (1940–1991)

After existing as independent countries for twenty years, the Baltic states were occupied and illegally annexed in June 1940. [17] Given a free hand by Nazi Germany via the German–Soviet Nonaggression Pact and its secret additional protocol of August 1939, [18] the Soviet Union pressured the three countries to accept its military bases in September 1939. In the case of refusal, the USSR effected an air and naval blockade and threatened to attack immediately with hundreds of thousands of troops massed upon the border. The military forces overtook the political systems of these countries and installed puppet regimes after rigged elections in June 1940. [19]

Baltic states Countries east of the Baltic Sea

The Baltic states, also known as the Baltic countries, Baltic republics, Baltic nations or simply the Baltics, is a geopolitical term used for grouping the three sovereign states in Northern Europe on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The term is not used in the context of cultural areas, national identity, or language. The three countries do not form an official union, but engage in intergovernmental and parliamentary cooperation.

Occupation of the Baltic states period in history of the Baltic States (1940–1991)

The occupation of the Baltic states involved the military occupation of the three Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania—by the Soviet Union under the auspices of the 1939 Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact in June 1940. They were then incorporated into the Soviet Union as constituent republics in August 1940, though most Western powers never recognised their incorporation. On 22 June 1941, Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union and within weeks occupied the Baltic territories. In July 1941, the Third Reich incorporated the Baltic territory into its Reichskommissariat Ostland. As a result of the Red Army's Baltic Offensive of 1944, the Soviet Union recaptured most of the Baltic states and trapped the remaining German forces in the Courland pocket until their formal surrender in May 1945. The Soviet "annexation occupation" or occupation sui generis of the Baltic states lasted until August 1991, when the three countries regained their independence.

Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact peace treaty

The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was a neutrality pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed in Moscow on 23 August 1939 by foreign ministers Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyacheslav Molotov, respectively. The pact was also known as the Nazi–Soviet Pact, the Hitler–Stalin Pact, or the German–Soviet Nonaggression Pact.

The sovietisation was interrupted by the German occupation in 1941–1944. The Baltic Offensive re-established the Soviet control in 1944–1945, and resumed sovietisation, mostly completed by 1950. The forced collectivisation of agriculture began in 1947, and was completed after the mass deportation in March 1949. Private farms were confiscated, and farmers were made to join the collective farms. An armed resistance movement of 'forest brothers' was active until the mid-1950s. Hundreds of thousands participated or supported the movement; tens of thousands were killed. The Soviet authorities fighting the forest brothers also suffered hundreds of deaths. Some innocent civilians were killed on both sides. In addition, a number of underground nationalist schoolchildren groups were active. Most of their members were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. The punitive actions decreased rapidly after Joseph Stalin's death in 1953; from 1956–58, a large part of the deportees and political prisoners were allowed to return. [19]

During the occupation, the Soviet authorities killed, politically arrested, unlawfully drafted, and deported hundreds of thousands of people. Numerous other kind of crimes against humanity were committed all through the occupation period. [19] Furthermore, trying to enforce the ideals of Communism, the authorities deliberately dismantled the existing social and economic structures, and imposed new "ideologically pure" hierarchies. This severely retarded the Baltic economies. For example, Estonian scientists have estimated economic damages directly attributable to the post-World War II occupation to hundreds of billions of US dollars (several dozens worth of Estonia's 2006 GDP of $21.28 billion [20] ). The Soviet environmental damage to Estonia is estimated to about $4 billion. In addition to direct damages, the retarded economy led to severe inequality within the Northern Europe.[ citation needed ]

After all, the attempt to integrate the Estonian society into the Soviet system failed. Although the armed resistance was defeated, the population remained anti-Soviet. This helped the Estonians to organise a new resistance movement in the late 1980s, regain their independence in 1991, and then rapidly develop a modern society. [19]

Notwithstanding the annexation by the Soviet Union in 1940, it is therefore correct to speak of the occupation of the Baltic states, referring in particular to the absence of Soviet legal title. The prolonged occupation was an unorthodox one. Until 1991, the status of the three countries resembled the classical occupation in important ways: external control by an internationally unsanctioned force and a conflict of interest between the foreign power and the inhabitants. However, in other aspects the situation was very different from a classical occupation. Both the fact of the incorporation of the Baltic states to the USSR as Soviet republics without qualification, and the long duration of the Soviet rule challenge the applicability of all rules on occupation from the practical point of view. Despite the fact of annexation, the presence of the USSR in the Baltic states remained an occupation sui generis . [21]

Although the Soviet Union condemned the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact [22] [23] —the immediate forerunner to the occupation—it is currently the policy of the USSR's legal successor Russian Federation to deny that the events constituted occupation or were illegal under applicable (international) laws. [24]

Finnish territories (1940)

Molotov signing a deal between the Soviet Union and the short-lived puppet state Finnish Democratic Republic, which existed on occupied territories during the Winter War. Terijokipakten.jpg
Molotov signing a deal between the Soviet Union and the short-lived puppet state Finnish Democratic Republic, which existed on occupied territories during the Winter War.

The Soviet Union demanded to move the Finnish border further away from Leningrad. The USSR also insisted that Finland lease the Hanko Peninsula (or similar territory at the entrance to the Gulf of Finland) for the creation of a Red Baltic Fleet naval base. [25] However, Finland refused and the Soviet Union invaded the country, initiating the Winter War. The USSR set up the Finnish Democratic Republic (Finnish : Suomen kansanvaltainen tasavalta), a short-lived Soviet puppet regime in the occupied Karelian territories. The Soviets also occupied the Petsamo municipality in the Barents Sea coast during the war.

The Moscow Peace Treaty ended the state of occupation on 12 March 1940, as Finland was forced to cede parts of Karelia. The land accounted for 9% of the country's territory, included Finland's second largest city Viipuri and much of Finland's industry. About 422,000 Karelians — 12% of Finland's population — choose rather to evacuate beyond the new border and lose their homes than to become Soviet subjects. The military troops and the remaining civilians were hastily evacuated. Finland also had to cede a part of the Salla area, the Rybachy Peninsula in the Barents Sea and four islands in the Gulf of Finland. The ceded areas were integrated within the Karelian ASSR to form the Karelo-Finnish SSR.[ citation needed ]

When the hostilities resumed in 1941, Finnish forces retook the lost areas and then advanced further up to the Svir River and Lake Onega before the end of the year. In the Soviet offensive of 1944 against the Finns the Red Army advance was halted by the Finns before reaching the 1940 border or, in the sole case where it did happen, the Red Army was promptly thrown back in Finnish counterattack. In the negotiations that followed the stopping of the Soviet offensive Finns further ceded the Petsamo municipality to the Soviet Union in the Moscow Armistice. The Soviet forces took the municipality from the Germans during the Petsamo–Kirkenes Offensive.[ citation needed ]

Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina (1940)

The Soviet Union, which did not recognize the sovereignty of Romania over Bessarabia since the union of 1918, issued an ultimatum on 28 June 1940 demanding the evacuation of the Romanian military and administration from the territory it contested as well as from the northern part of the Romanian province of Bukovina. [26] Under pressure from Moscow and Berlin, the Romanian administration and armed forces retreated to avoid war. Adolf Hitler used Soviet occupation of Bessarabia as justification for German occupation of Yugoslavia and Greece and German attack on USSR.

After the USSR entered the war on the Allied side

Map of the Eastern Bloc EasternBloc BasicMembersOnly.svg
Map of the Eastern Bloc

On 22 June 1941, the Operation Barbarossa commenced, which gave a start of the Eastern front. German lead European Axis countries and Finland invaded the USSR, thereby terminating the German-Soviet non-aggression treaty. During the hostilities between the Soviet Union and the Axis, which led to the total military defeat of the latter, the USSR fully or partially occupied the territory of Germany and its satellites, as well as the territories of some Germany occupied states and Austria. Some of them became Soviet Satellite states, namely, the People's Republic of Poland, the People's Republic of Hungary, [27] the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, [28] the Romanian People's Republic, the People's Republic of Bulgaria, the People's Republic of Albania; [29] later, East Germany was formed based on the Soviet zone of German occupation. [30]

Iran 1941–1946

On 25 August 1941 British and Commonwealth forces and the Soviet Union jointly invaded Iran. The purpose of the invasion (codenamed Operation Countenance) was to secure Iranian oil fields and ensure supply lines (see Persian Corridor ) for the Soviets fighting against European Axis countries on the Eastern Front. The Soviet Union would go on to set up the Azerbaijan People's Government in Iranian Azerbaijan while just occupying the rest of north Iran.

Hungary (1944)

In July 1941, the Kingdom of Hungary, a member of the Tripartite Pact, took part in Operation Barbarossa, in alliance with Nazi Germany. Hungarian forces fought shoulder to shoulder with the Wehrmacht and advanced through the Ukrainian SSR deep into Russia, all the way to Stalingrad. However, by the end of 1942 the Soviet Red Army began pushing back the Wehrmacht through a series of offensives that preceded the Red Army's encroachment upon Hungarian territory in 1943–44. In September 1944 Soviet forces crossed into Hungary, launching the Budapest Offensive. As the Hungarian army ignored the armistice with the USSR signed by the government of Miklós Horthy on 15 October 1944, the Soviets fought their way further westward against the Hungarian troops and their German allies capturing the capital on 13 February 1945. Operations continued until 4 April 1945, when the last German forces and their remaining loyal Hungarian troops were routed out of the country.

The Soviets made sure that a loyal post-war government dominated by Communists was installed in the country before transferring authority from the occupational force to the Hungarian authorities. The presence of Soviet troops in the country was regulated by the 1949 mutual assistance treaty concluded between the Soviet and Hungarian governments. The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was a spontaneous nationwide revolt against the Communist government of Hungary and its Soviet-imposed policies. After announcing a willingness to negotiate the withdrawal of Soviet forces, the Soviet Politburo changed its mind. On 4 November 1956, a large joint military force of the Warsaw Pact led by Moscow, entered Budapest to crush the armed resistance, killing thousands of civilians in the process.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the last Soviet soldier left the country in 1991, thus ending Soviet military presence in Hungary.

Romania (1944)

Map of Romania after World War II indicating lost territories. Romania WWII.png
Map of Romania after World War II indicating lost territories.

The Soviet's second Jassy–Kishinev Offensive led to defeat of Romania, subsequent coup d'état, and the switch of Romania from the Axis to the Allies. The Soviet troops were stationed in this country from 1944 and 1958. [31] On 12 September 1944, with the Red Army already controlling much of Romania's territory, an Armistice Agreement between Romania and the USSR was signed, under which Romania retroceded the territory it administered earlier in the war, and subjected itself to an allied commission consisting of the Soviet Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom. On the ground, it was the Soviet military command, and not the Western allies, that de facto exercised dominant authority. The presence and free movement of Soviet troops was explicitly stipulated in the agreement. [32]

The terms of the Armistice Agreement ceased on 15 September 1947 as the conditions of the Paris Peace Treaties, 1947 entered into force. The new treaty stipulated the withdrawal of all Allied forces from Romania with an important exemption that such withdrawal was "subject to the right of the Soviet Union to keep on Romanian territory such armed forces as it may need for the maintenance of the lines of communication of the Soviet Army with the Soviet zone of occupation in Austria."

In the aftermath of the agreement the Soviet presence fell from 130,000 troops (the peak in 1947) to approximately 30,000. The troops were fully withdrawn by August 1958.

Comparing the Soviet occupation of Romania to that of Bulgaria, David Stone notes: "Unlike Bulgaria, Romania had few cultural and historical ties with Russia, and had actually waged war on the Soviet Union. As a result, Soviet occupation weighted heavier on the Romanian people, and the troops themselves were less disciplined." [33]

Bulgaria (1944)

On 5 September 1944, the Soviet Union declared war on Bulgaria and on 8 September invaded the country, without encountering resistance. By the next day Soviets occupied the northeastern part of Bulgaria along with the key port city of Varna. On 8 September 1944 Bulgaria declared war against Nazi Germany. Garrison detachments with Zveno officers at the head overthrew the government on the eve of 9 September, after taking strategic keypoints in Sofia and arresting the ministers. A new government of the Fatherland Front was appointed on 9 September with Kimon Georgiev as prime minister. Soviet troops were withdrawn in 1947. [34]

Czechoslovakia (1944)

In the fall of 1944 when the north and eastern parts of Carpathian Ruthenia were captured by the Red Army, the Czechoslovak government delegation led by minister František Němec  [ cs ] arrived in Khust to establish the provisional Czechoslovak administration, according to the treaties between the Soviet and Czechoslovak governments from the same year. However, after a few weeks, the Red Army and NKVD started to obstruct the delegation's work and the "National committee of Transcarpatho-Ukraine" was set up in Mukachevo under the protection of the Red Army. On November 26 this committee, led by Ivan Turyanitsa (a Rusyn who deserted from the Czechoslovak army) proclaimed the will of Ukrainian people to separate from Czechoslovakia and join the Soviet Ukraine. After two months of conflicts and negotiations the Czechoslovak government delegation departed from Khust on February 1, 1945, leaving the Carpathian Ukraine under Soviet control. After World War II, on June 29, 1945, a treaty was signed between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, ceding Carpatho-Ukraine officially to the Soviet Union.

Following the capture of Prague by the Red Army in May 1945 the Soviets withdrew in December 1945 as part of an agreement that all Soviet and US troops leave the country.

Northern Norway 1944–1946 / Bornholm 1945–1946

1944–1946, Soviet troops occupied northern Norway and the Danish island of Bornholm, strategically situated at the Baltic sea entrance. Stalin's intent was to attempt to gain bases at these locations late in the war. [35] The Soviet deputy ambassador suggested seizing Bornholm in March 1945 and on 4 May the Baltic Fleet was ordered to seize the island. [35]

Bornholm was heavily bombarded by Soviet forces in May 1945. Gerhard von Kamptz, the German superior officer in charge failed to provide a written capitulation as demanded by the Soviet commanders, several Soviet aircraft relentlessly bombed and destroyed more than 800 civilian houses in Rønne and Nexø and seriously damaged roughly 3000 more during 7 8 May 1945. On 9 May, Soviet troops landed on the island and after a short fight the German garrison did surrender. [36] Soviet forces left the island on 5 April 1946.

Germany (1945)

Soviet occupation zone of Germany was the area of eastern Germany occupied by the Soviet Union from 1945 on. In 1949 it became The German Democratic Republic known in English as East Germany.

In 1955 the Republic was declared by the Soviet Union to be fully sovereign; however, Soviet troops remained, based on the four-power Potsdam agreement. As NATO troops remained in West Berlin and West Germany, the GDR and Berlin in particular became focal points of Cold War tensions.

A separation barrier between West and East Germany, the Berlin Wall known in the Soviet Union and in East Germany as the "Anti-Fascist Protective Rampart," [37] was built in 1961.

The Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany signed in Moscow, mandated the withdrawal of all Soviet forces from Germany by the end of 1994. Conclusion of the final settlement cleared the way for unification of East and West Germany. Formal political union occurred on 3 October 1990.

One result of the occupation was children fathered by Russian soldiers either through romantic relationships, relationships of convenience or rape. These children experienced societal discrimination for decades, but after the troops' withdrawal and the development of perestroika, some of these "Lost Red Army Children" made public attempts to discover more about their Russian fathers. [38]

Austria 1945–1955

Occupation zones in Austria Austria 1945-55.svg
Occupation zones in Austria

The Soviet occupation of Austria, 1945–1955. [39] At the end of the war, Austria and Vienna were divided into 4 zones of occupation, following the terms of the Potsdam Conference. The Soviet Union expropriated over 450 businesses, formerly German-owned, and established Administration for Soviet Property in Austria, or USIA. This accounted for less than 10% of the Austrian workforce at the peak in 1951, and less than 5% of the Austrian GDP at that time.

On 15 May 1955, the Austrian State Treaty was signed, officially establishing Austrian independence and sovereignty. The treaty was enacted on 27 July, and the last Allied troops left the country on 25 October.

Manchuria 1945–1946

The Soviet invasion of Manchuria or, as the Soviets named it, the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation (Манчжурская стратегическая наступательная операция, lit. Manchzhurskaya Strategicheskaya Nastupatelnaya Operaciya), began on 9 August 1945, with the Soviet invasion of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo and was the largest campaign of the 1945 Soviet–Japanese War which resumed hostilities between Soviet Union and the Empire of Japan after more than 4 years of peace. Soviets gains on the continent were Manchukuo, Mengjiang (Inner Mongolia) and northern Korean Peninsula. The rapid defeat of Japan's Kwantung Army was a very significant factor in the Japanese surrender and the end of World War II, as Japan realized the Russians were willing and able to take the cost of invasion of its Home Islands, after their rapid conquest of Manchuria and southern Sakhalin. [40] [41] [42] [43] [44]

Korea 1945–1948

In August 1945 the Soviet Army established the Soviet Civil Administration to administer the country until a domestic regime could be established. Provisional committees were set up across the country putting Communists into key positions. In February 1946 a provisional government called the North Korean Provisional People's Committee was formed under Kim Il-sung. Soviet forces departed in 1948, and a few years later, in an attempt to unite Korea under Communist rule, the Korean War broke out.

Kuril Islands 1945

After Japan accepted the Potsdam Declaration on 14 August 1945, and announced the termination of the war on 15 August 1945, the Soviet Union started the Invasion of the Kuril Islands, which took place between 18 August and 3 September, expelling the Japanese inhabitants two years later [45]

Cold War

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was a spontaneous nationwide revolt against the Communist government of Hungary and its Soviet-imposed policies. After announcing their willingness to negotiate the withdrawal of Soviet forces, the Soviet Politburo changed its mind and moved to crush the revolution. On 4 November 1956, a large joint military force of the Warsaw Pact, led by Moscow, entered Budapest to crush the armed resistance.

The Soviet intervention, codenamed "Operation Whirlwind", was launched by Marshal Ivan Konev. [46] The five Soviet divisions stationed in Hungary before 23 October were augmented to a total strength of 17 divisions. [47] The 8th Mechanized Army under command of Lieutenant General Hamazasp Babadzhanian and the 38th Army under command of Lieutenant General Hadzhi-Umar Mamsurov from the nearby Carpathian Military District were deployed to Hungary for the operation.

At 3:00 a.m. on 4 November, Soviet tanks penetrated Budapest along the Pest side of the Danube in two thrusts—one from the south, and one from the north—thus splitting the city in half. Armored units crossed into Buda, and at 4:25 a.m. fired the first shots at the army barracks on Budaõrsi road. Soon after, Soviet artillery and tank fire was heard in all districts of Budapest. Operation Whirlwind combined air strikes, artillery, and the coordinated tank-infantry action of 17 divisions. By 8:00 am organised defence of the city evaporated after the radio station was seized, and many defenders fell back to fortified positions. Hungarian civilians bore the brunt of the fighting, and it was often impossible for Soviet troops to differentiate military from civilian targets. [46] For this reason, Soviet tanks often crept along main roads firing indiscriminately into buildings. Hungarian resistance was strongest in the industrial areas of Budapest, which were heavily targeted by Soviet artillery and air strikes. [46] The last pocket of resistance called for ceasefire on 10 November. Over 2,500 Hungarians and 722 Soviet troops had been killed and thousands more were wounded. [48] [49]

Czechoslovakia (1968–1989)

In 1948, the Czech Communist Party won a large portion of the vote in Czechoslovak politics, leading to a communist period without immediate Soviet military presence. The 1950s were characterized as a repressive period in the country's history, but by the 1960s, the local socialist leadership had taken a course toward economic, social and political reforms. However, a number of significant Czech communists, together with the Czech security agency, conspired against limited introduction of market systems, personal freedoms, and renewal of civic associations (see Socialism with a human face ) by leveraging Russian support towards strengthening Communist Party's positions. [50]

Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, reacted to these reforms by announcing the Brezhnev Doctrine , and on 21 August 1968, about 750,000 Warsaw Pact troops, mostly from the Soviet Union, Poland, Bulgaria and Hungary, with tanks and machine guns occupied Czechoslovakia, deported thousands of people and rapidly derailed all reforms. Most large cities were individually invaded and overtaken; however, the invasion's primary attention focused on Prague, particularly the state organs, Czech television and radio.

The Czechoslovak government held an emergency session, and loudly expressed its disagreement with the occupation. Many citizens joined in protests, and by September 1968 at least 72 people had died and hundreds more injured in the conflicts. In the brief time after the occupation, which had put an end to any hope that Prague Spring had created, about 100,000 people fled Czechoslovakia. Over the whole time of the occupation, more than 700,000 people, including significant part of Czechoslovak intelligentsia left. Communists responded by revoking Czechoslovakian citizenship of many of these refugees and banned them from returning to their homeland.

At a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, Yakov Malik, Soviet ambassador to the United Nations issued a proclamation, claiming that the military intervention was a response to a request by the government of Czechoslovakia. The Soviet Union being a permanent member of the Security Council — with veto right —, was able to circumvent any United Nations' resolutions to end the occupation.

Prague Spring's end became clear by December 1968, when a new presidium of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia accepted the so-called Instructions from The Critical Development in the Country and Society after the XIII Congress of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Under a guise of "normalisation", all aspects of neo-Stalinism were returned to everyday political and economic life.

Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia ended in 1989 by Velvet Revolution, 2 years before the collapse of Soviet Union. The last occupation troops left the country on 27 June 1991 [51]

In 1987, the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev acknowledged that his liberalizing policies of glasnost and perestroika owed a great deal to Dubček's socialism with a human face. When asked what the difference was between the Prague Spring and his own reforms, Gorbachev replied, "Nineteen years".

During a visit to Prague in 2007, Vladimir Putin said that he felt the moral responsibility for the 1968 events and that Russia condemned them. [52]

Afghanistan 1979–1989

The Soviet invasion in late December, 1979. SovietInvasionAfghanistanMap.png
The Soviet invasion in late December, 1979.

Scholarly and historical accounts maintained that Afghanistan had been under the Soviet Union's influence as early as 1919 when Afghanistan began receiving aid to counter the Anglosphere of the United Kingdom. Major Soviet technical assistance, military aid, and economic relations grew in the 1950s followed by the Communist Revolution in the 1970s. With the threat to the Afghan communist government, the government invited the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan which began as midnight approached on 24 December 1979. The USSR organized a massive military airlift into Kabul, involving an estimated 280 transport aircraft and 3 divisions of almost 8,500 men each. Within two days, the Soviet Union had seized control of Afghanistan, first securing Kabul by deploying a special Soviet assault unit against Darulaman Palace, where elements of the Afghan army loyal to Hafizullah Amin put up a fierce, but brief resistance. With Amin's death at the palace, Babrak Karmal, exiled leader of the Parcham faction of the PDPA was installed by the Soviets as Afghanistan's new head of government. [53]

The peak of the fighting came in 1985–86. The Soviet forces launched their largest and most effective assaults on the mujahedin supply lines adjacent to Pakistan. Major campaigns had also forced the mujahedin into the defensive near Herat and Kandahar. On 15 February 1989, the last Soviet troops departed on schedule from Afghanistan.

See also


  1. Roberts 2006 , p. 43
  2. 1 2 3 Wettig 2008 , p. 21
  3. 1 2 3 Senn, Alfred Erich, Lithuania 1940 : revolution from above, Amsterdam, New York, Rodopi, 2007 ISBN   978-90-420-2225-6
  4. Kennedy-Pipe, Caroline, Stalin's Cold War, New York : Manchester University Press, 1995, ISBN   0-7190-4201-1
  5. Roberts 2006 , p. 55
  6. Shirer 1990 , p. 794
  7. Warfare and Society in Europe: 1898 to the Present By Michael S. Neiberg; p 160 ISBN   0-415-32718-0
  8. AP European History; p. 461 ISBN   0-87891-863-9
  9. Soviet politics in perspective By Richard Sakwa; p.260 ISBN   0-415-07153-4
  10. Sanford, George (2005). Katyn and the Soviet Massacre Of 1940: Truth, Justice And Memory. London; New York: Routledge. ISBN   0-415-33873-5. p. 21. Weinberg, Gerhard (1994). A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN   0-521-44317-2., p. 963.
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Further reading